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ACH payments top 18.2 billion in 2008

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ORLANDO, Fla. (4/9/09)--The number of automated clearinghouse (ACH) payments in 2008 topped 18.2 billion--a 1.2 billion increase over payments in 2007, reports NACHA-The Electronic Payments Association. More than 15,000 depository financial institutions, including credit unions, originated and received ACH payments last year. NACHA announced the statistics at its PAYMENTS 2009 conference Monday, noting that payments via the ACH Network grew, despite the slower economy. The portion of volume passing through the ACH Operators increased to nearly 15 billion transactions--7.1% more than in 2007. The dollar value of these transactions totaled $29.96 trillion, a 4% increase over 2007's dollar value. Internet-initiated ACH debits rose by 19.7% to nearly 2.1 billion payments. When combined with consumer-initiated credit payments, the dollar value of consumer ACH payments via the Internet totaled $939 billion in 2008. Business-to-business and financial EDI payments saw more than one billion addenda records transmitted last year, a 14.6% increase over 2007. Back office conversion, the newest e-check transaction to be available for the full year, grew by 1.772% in 2008--to nearly 78.5 million payments. The federal government used the ACH Network for more than 30 million direct deposits as part of last year's economic stimulus package. This contributed to a 10.2% growth of federal government ACH payments to 1.145 billion payments in 2008. For more information, use the resource link.

Oprah millionaire contest is a scam

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/09)--Credit unions should warn their members about a new scam that involves fraudulent e-mails telling recipients they’ve been nominated for the “Oprah Millionaire Contest Show.” Recipients are asked to provide their contact information, including address, telephone phone and e-mail, though no mailing address is provided. Recipients also are told they need to purchase transportation and a ticket to attend the show and complete another contest form with personal questions. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) warns consumers not to open unsolicited e-mails or embedded links because they may contain viruses or malware. Providing personal information also will compromise one’s identity, the FBI said in a press release.

CU System briefs (04/08/2009)

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* SANTA ROSA, Calif. (4/9/09)--Redwood CU turned off all nonessential lighting during Earth Hour March 28 to join individuals and business worldwide in making a statement about global climate change. Students at Rincon Valley Middle School invited Redwood CU to participate in the event. The $1.8 billion asset credit union has won recognition for sustainable practices from several organizations and in 2008 received silver level Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification for its administrative offices … * HARBOR, Ore. (4/9/09)--American Airlines’ Sky Radio will feature a segment on Chetco FCU throughout the month of April. The interview with Jason Dias, vice president of creative services, highlights the $357 million asset credit union’s services as well as the difference between banks and credit unions (Oregon Outlook April edition). The interview will reach millions of travelers on American’s domestic and international flights … * MUSKEGON, Mich. (4/9/09)--Dorothy M. Lester announced her retirement as CEO of First General CU at the credit union’s annual meeting in March (Michigan Monitor April 7). Lester’s 48 years of credit union service included leading First General since 1979. During her tenure First General built its main office in Norton Shores, expanded it twice, and opened its first branch in downtown Muskegon. Lester also oversaw mergers with Andaconda CU and Bennett Pump CU. She continues to chair the board of trustees at Muskegon Community College. Assistant Manager Timothy Hichue was promoted to CEO on April 1 … * TAMPA, Fla. (4/9/09)--John W. Thompson Jr., senior vice president of information technology (IT) at GTE FCU, died April 3 in Tampa at age 54. Thompson was responsible for the operation and maintenance of all aspects of the credit union’s network. Thompson was innovative and forward-thinking, according to Barry Artis, vice president of IT communications at GTE FCU. "He was always looking for a way to incorporate new technology into the credit unions," Artis said. Artis has known Thompson for 25 years, according to GTE FCU. Thompson joined GTE FCU in 1991 from Space Coast CU in Melbourne, FL, where he was data processing manager. A memorial service was held in Lithia, Fla. ... * LIVONIA, Mich. (4/9/09)--H. Bernard Vance, a board member at Co-op Services Credit Union, died in March. Vance was involved in the credit union system for 32 years (Michigan Monitor April 7). He joined Co-op in 1976 as a member. He then became chairman of Co-op Services CU’s advisory board in 1980 and joined the board of directors a year later. His board service included working on the planning, delinquent loans, executive and insurance committees. Before his retirement in 1988, Vance worked for Heritage Hospital as director of human resources ...

Florida coalition Front load tax credit for homebuyers

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (4/9/09)--The Florida Credit Union League (FCUL) is involved with a coalition that is advocating for the state to allow homebuyers to use a $8,000 tax credit for first-time homeowners as a down payment, a move the group has dubbed as the “Florida Formula.” “Lenders are eager and ready to make mortgage loans, but they can't put down payment money in buyers' hands,” said Andy Price, FCUL senior vice president. “When details of the Florida Formula are crafted, thousands of first-time homebuyers who otherwise would have to wait years to save their down payment money will be able to afford to do it in 2009. That will help them, of course, but it also will help stimulate Florida's sagging economy,” said Price. The federal stimulus bill states that first-time buyers--defined as a person or couple who has not owned a home for at least three years--must complete the closing on their purchase by Dec. 1, 2009, to qualify. The group estimates that 8,000 to 12,000 prospective first-time homebuyers in Florida could benefit if the federal tax-credit stimulus provision were accessed on the front-end. Tens of thousands of single-family homes across Florida are in foreclosure, and Florida currently has a 20-month supply of homes--or more than 300,000 units on the market-- according to the Florida Home Builders Association. The Florida Home Builders Association, Florida Bankers Association and the Florida Association of Realtors also are involved with the initiative.

Survey Most entities dont trust contact data

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MADISON, Wis. (4/9/09)--About one-third of financial institutions admit they do not have an adequate contact data strategy, according to a recent report. Experian’s “Contact Data Management: the Wise Investor” explores the data strategies that financial institutions use to contact members or customers. Experian conducted survey research that included responses from CEOs, vice presidents, directors, managers and administration staff. The information found in the report is relevant to credit unions because credit unions send direct mailings to members--including disclosure forms, loan forms, personal identification numbers and ATM cards. If contact information isn’t correct for a member, a credit union can waste time and money sending materials incorrectly. Experian’s research indicated that 33% of financial institutions don’t have a documented data quality strategy. “Organizations that can’t trust their data should be worried,” the paper said. “Without accurate customer information, effective retention strategies are difficult.” Consumer spending has tightened and organizations are struggling to retain their existing customers. They must understand who their consumers are and how to communicate with them. Recent high profile mergers and acquisitions create overlap of member data that must be consolidate and migrated, Experian said. About 25% of organizations can’t list the top users of their products and services. However, 71% of financial institutions said they plan to invest the same or more in data quality initiatives in the next six months. Pitching to a board for investment is not an easy task, Experian said. The paper provided several ways that credit unions can receive approval from their boards to expand their budgets for better data strategies. “Position data quality as a solid foundation for improving business performance,” said Jonathan Hulford-Funnell, Experian global managing director. “Be careful how you use the term ‘innovation.’ Some senior managers are wary of it as it suggests an element of risk, but when harnessed correctly, it can deliver great results.” The paper also cited a case study that could apply to credit unions involving an e-commerce site. The site was being charged expenses by shippers for providing inaccurate information and incomplete addresses on shipments. After realizing the biggest errors came directly from the consumers, the site deployed an address verification solution, which validated the information upon entry. The software prompted the user for missing information, such as a street number. After one year of using the software, the retailer realized more than $1 million in savings. Customer satisfaction also increased, Experian said.

Oregon to participate in REAL Solutions

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/9/09)--The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) announced that it is participating in the REAL Solutions initiative, which provides credit union services to people in need. Oregon’s participation is underwritten by a grant from the Oregon Credit Union Foundation, CUAO said (Oregon Outlook April). With REAL Solutions, Oregon consumers can gain solid financial footing to remain self-supporting, contributing members of the state’s economy. The program reaches out to people with low or moderate incomes, new Americans, and the unbanked. The service helps increase financial literacy, improve personal finance management, encourage saving, build creditworthiness and improve the financial and economic well-being of communities.

CUs exempt from Ohio cramdown bill

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/9/09)--Ohio credit unions are among the key stakeholders who successfully lobbied the Ohio legislature to tone down a proposed bill aimed at reducing mortgage foreclosures. The revised version of House Bill 3 introduced this week still imposes a six-month moratorium on foreclosures, but credit unions and community banks are exempt if they service the loans as part of the local institution’s portfolio. The latest version also reduces common pleas judges’ ability to modify mortgages and takes away judges’ authority to “cramdown” a loan’s principal. Those changes are in line with positions taken by the Ohio Credit Union League, which continues to examine the bill’s impact on credit unions. “We do not believe there should be judicial loan modification,” said league General Counsel John Kozlowski. He said legislators like Rep. Mike Foley, the chairman of the Ohio House of Representatives’ Housing and Urban Revitalization Committee and the bill’s co-sponsor, understand that credit unions already use workouts and modifications to help members stay in their homes. That message was reinforced last week when more than 80 leaders from Ohio credit unions visited the state Capitol to meet with legislators. Kozlowski said mortgage legislation was often the focus during meetings with Rep. Foley and other legislative leaders.

N.Y. CUs advocate on Municipal Deposits Action Day

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/9/09)--Representatives from New York credit unions and the Credit Union Association of New York met in Albany March 31 for Municipal Deposits Action Day to discuss legislation that would allow municipalities to deposit funds at credit unions.
Click to view larger image New York credit unions and the Credit Union Association of New York met with legislators last month to discuss legislation that would allow credit unions to accept municipal deposits. From left are: William J. Mellin, president/CEO, the association; Steven Kohlman, associate vice president, Teachers FCU, Farmingville; Barry Stilwell, CEO, Canandaigua (N.Y.) FCU; Amy Kramer, vice president, the association’s governmental affairs and Leona Haberstro, association advocacy specialist; Rep. Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo) and Cheryl Halter, CUANY legislative analyst. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
New York law requires state and local governments to deposit their funds in commercial banks. Two bills--S.1793 and A.4370--in the state’s Senate and Assembly would allow state and federal credit unions, savings and loan institutions and federal savings associations to accept municipal deposits. Two other pieces of legislation, S.717 and A.4319, contain an option in which the local governing body would designate the financial institution by resolution. The option also limits the amount that each financial institution can accept for deposit up to $1 million per municipality. Representatives met with their legislators and reiterated how credit unions play a vital role in the state economy. Credit unions told legislators they are approached by representatives from local fire departments, libraries, schools and villages about deposits. Municipalities facing tight budgets could see financial benefits from working with credit unions and taxpayers’ funds would stay local, the association said.

WSECU Munny Bunny Accounts draw TV coverage

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (4/9/09)--Washington State Employees CU (WSECU) is helping members "recession-proof" their children's futures with a
Click for video Featured on KCTS-TV ‘About the Money’
Click for video Featured on KGO-TV ‘View from the Bay’
new savings account for minors. The Munny Bunny Accounts have drawn coverage on two television stations, says the credit union. The account comes with gifts--a keepsake munny journal and plush munny bunny for ages 12 and under. The munny journal is filled with easy-to-understand information about long-term savings planning to get kids hopping down the money trail to a lifetime of sound money management, said the credit union. "We want all our member moms and dads to start WSECU Munny Bunny savings accounts for their children," said Kristina Walters, WSECU vice president of marketing and business development. "It is more than just cute. The journals are filled with information that educates parents about starting young to save smart." Financial advisor Brad Dugdale created and partnered with WSECU for distribution throughout Washington state. KGO-TV featured the program on its "View from the Bay" show, and KCTS-TV spotlighted the program on its "About the Money" show.